Guidelines for contributors to Career focus.

Thank you for agreeing to contribute to Career focus. These general guidelines are to help you create and submit your article in a form which is mutually convenient for us both. I hope they will prove helpful, but please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any matters to discuss during the preparation of your article that are not contained within them.

Audience The broad mission of Career focus is to publish high quality information which assists doctors in developing their careers. The editorial content of the pages is directed at all doctors who are developing their careers (traditionally medical students and junior doctors, though there is now increasing emphasis on lifelong career development), those who would advise them (for example, royal college advisers, postgraduate deans), and managers and employees of organisations that employ doctors (for example, trust medical staffing officers). It is helpful if you attempt to satisfy the information needs of all three groups as you write. Career focus is published in both the GP and Clinical Research editions of the BMJ's classified supplement: it therefore reaches every UK member of the BMA (more than 100 000 doctors). The international edition does not routinely carry the classified supplement, but your article will be archived in full text on the BMJ's web site (www.bmj.com) where it will be freely available worldwide.

Content Articles that advise on the choice of a particular specialty or type of work should clearly outline the advantages and disadvantages for the individual of pursuing that course, and references to sources of further information.

Length Career focus articles run to 1500--1600 words for the simple reason that that this is the number of words that fit on the 2 pages allocated to us. It helps the reader (and the layout) if you supply some of the content as summary/text boxes of a 100--200 words. Suggestions for illustrations are welcome, though they are mainly commissioned in house.

Style Career focus follows the BMJ style, which is a complex matter. It means very few capitalised nouns: God, but regional postgraduate dean; the Queen, but royal colleges; only the EDITOR (at the beginning of letters) takes all caps (!) Try to avoid the exclamation mark by the way--it's very non BMJ. Note also that we're not keen on hyphens--run words together or leave them apart. I work part time not full-time to enhance my wellbeing, for example. (Dashes are different--contact the technical editing department for further details). References should be in the Vancouver style, which varies slightly according to the source of the publication. There are two main kinds: journal articles and books or reports.

Journal articles should look like this:

1 Awad I, Wattis J. Alcohol histories in hospital: does the age and sex of the patient make a difference? Br J Addict 1990;85:149 50.

Books and other publications should look like this: Royal Colleges of Physicians and Psychiatrists. Joint working party report: the psychological care of medical patients: recognition of need and service provision. London: RCGP, 1995.

Consistency in the style of the pages is important, and the pages are carefully edited and checked in house, but it helps if the original comes close.

Document management We need only two copies of your article: one paper, one electronic. It's actually still most convenient for us to receive a double spaced word processed hard copy with an accompanying floppy disk and a covering letter in the post. As well as documenting your consent for publication, the covering letter seems to be the best way of making sure we have your work phone and fax numbers readily to hand when we need them. We can handle most common floppy disk formats: just say which yours is on the label. Oh, and guess how many disks we get called bmj.doc each year? Why not choose a filename something that's likely to be unique at this end (your name and the date for example). A combination of fax and email works well too. Email alone is theoretically OK, but do check you receive confirmation (articles have been known to enter electronic voids, never to emerge) and, obviously, retain a backup copy on your own system.

Contacting the editor Call 0171 383 6044 or fax 0171 383 6418. Email dcarnall@bmj.com or write BMJ, Tavistock House, Tavistock Square, WC1H 9JP